FCC Goes Local in Maine

FCC Goes Local in Maine

  • Posted on: 26 June 2007
  • By: Eli

(photo: Adam Franco)

The Federal Communications Commission is holding an open meeting this Thursday, June 28 from 4-11pm at Portland High School in Portland, ME. The meeting will include "presentations on perspectives on localism from two panels and comments from public parties."

(An agenda with panelists is available at www.fcc.gov. Audio from the meeting will also be streamed at the FCC's site.)

Last year, the FCC launched a review on whether to lift remaining ownership limits that prevent a single corporation from gaining a virtual media monopoly in any given city. As part of this review, the FCC is looking into the impact of media consolidation on local media coverage. In an op-ed piece last Sunday in the Portland Press Herald, the two Democratic commissioners (Michael Copps & Jonathan Adelstein) write that the FCC "will soon decide whether to allow a small number of media giants to buy up the remaining local broadcasters and other media outlets across the land."

There is cause for concern. According to a 2003 study of programming hours on 45 "local" TV stations, local public affairs programs, such as newsmagazines, ranked dead last at only 0.4%. Local news aired just under 10% of the time, whereas paid programming and drama ranked highest, together making up nearly a quarter of all programming.

This is not a new issue. In 2003, the FCC voted to eliminate many ownership limits. A public outcry ensued, and a federal court eventually threw out the new rules. There were a number of public hearings on "localism" at that time, as well.

As Copps and Adelstein put it- "American citizens own the airwaves, not TV and radio executives. We give broadcasters the right to use these airwaves for free. They earn profits (usually very healthy profits) using this public resource in exchange for agreeing to broadcast in the public interest."

Do you feel that the broadcasters in the Boston area, Portland, or wherever you may be, are doing their duty and providing enough programming of local interest and importance? If you're in the neighborhood, go to the hearing and speak up for local coverage and against media monopoly!

From www.fcc.gov: "The public may also file comments or other documents with the Commission and should reference MB 04-233. Filing instructions are provided at http://www.fcc.gov/localism/filinginstructions.doc"